Wallabies taking no risks with Pocock and Folau

by RUGBY.com.au staff

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says there’s no risk in playing Israel Folau and David Pocock in Sunday’s Rugby World Cup semi-final.

The pair have had limited involvement in training for much of the week but Folau (ankle) finished Friday’s session and Saturday’s captain run.

Cheika said Pocock’s (calf) progress was better than expected, with the number eight completing most of Friday’s session.

“We’ve calculated where he’s at with recovery time,” he said.

“We always knew that injury would be around the seven day, eight day mark for return to play.

“He got through a good deal of training yesterday, more than we thought.

“Every day you’re going to get improvements.

Cheika said Pocock’s mental fortitude, from which he has had to draw a lot through some injury-ravaged seasons, meant his recovery was quicker than anticipated.

“He's very strong mentally, that lad, so it would have been very difficult to stop him even if he wasn’t fit," he said.

“We feel more than comfortable with the fact he’s fit enough to do his job and do it very well.”

Folau played on his injury against Wales with no substitutions left for the team before missing the quarter-final against Scotland.

Cheika said the fullback was focused on performing for the Wallabies on Sunday, but wouldn’t be worried if he wasn’t the match winner.

“ As great an individual player as he is, he’s  very much a team player,” he said.

“He’s certainly not driven by always being the main man.

“But I would...guess that a player of his calibre is only going to enjoy these matches and do really well in these finals matches.  

“I think he’s just been wanting to play footy, I think the frustrating part was not being able to play last week.”

While Pocock and Folau have both been included in Sunday's starting side, Scott Sio (elbow) failed to recover from injury for the semi-final.

His starting front row partner Sekope Kepu said Sio’s replacement in James Slipper would step up.

“The depth that we’ve built (means that) whoever’s taking that starting spot or replaced guys have come in and done a great job,” he said.

“He’ll bring his experience and his work off the ball around the park.

“He’s someone who’s got a big engine so I’m really looking forward to playing alongside him.”

The Wallabies face Argentina in their World Cup semi-final on Sunday at 4pm (Monday 3am AEDT).